The hot drinks that boost your brain

  • This new tea research is bonkers 
  • Hot drinks that can make you healthier and smarter 
  • Yet more revelations about coffee

I spend a lot of time doing research for this letter.

Going through the newspapers… looking at online articles… talking to the Good Life team about what they’ve discovered recently.

Then, when I am ready to start writing, I always go through a special ritual…

I put on the kettle and make a cup of tea.

In fact, there’s one beside me right now as I write this very sentence.

As it turns out, this ritualistic Good Life Letter cup of tea might be making me a tiny bit smarter.

Some new research, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, shows that drinking tea improved mental ability and creativity.

They took a group of men and women and gave them either tea or water to drink. The subjects were then given word association games and riddles to solve.

Afterwards, the tea drinkers scored a higher average than the water drinkers.

But here’s the bonkers bit…

It wasn’t necessarily that the ingredients in the tea were behind this effect.

Because while tea contains caffeine and theanine – both linked to improved focus and attention – the amounts drunk by the subjects were negligible.

Plus – they were doing the tests immediately after drinking the tea, so there was no time for the compounds in the tea to hit the stomach and get to the brain.

So why the improved test results?

The researchers think that it’s the process of tea drinking that has an effect on your mental alertness.

“Previous research has found that people tend to associate tea drinking with a specific set of personality traits, such as smart, creative, elegant, confident and stable,” they said. “It may be that when participants are stimulated by tea, the mental representation of a tea drinker is also activated, and they unconsciously think they should be smarter and more creative.”

Interesting stuff!

It goes to show the placebo power of tea!

Simply making a brew and drinking it will give your brain a small boost.

This backs up something I wrote to you about last year –researchers at Newcastle University showed that drinking five cups of tea a day improved focus and reaction times in people aged over 85.

They had better brain function, sharper focus, a stronger attention span and faster reaction speeds.

Again, Dr Edward Okello who led the research, considered that it might be the routine of making the drink that delivered these results.

Of course, there are other benefits to tea, too. Particularly if you go for one like our Kosabei tea, which is packed with antioxidants. To find out more about it, have a look at our page about Kosabei tea here.

Or there’s Matcha tea…

This has chemical properties which help to soothe the mind, which is why it has long been used for meditation and relaxation by Buddhists.

We don’t have much Matcha in stock, but if you’re quick you should be able to order some from here.

Just try and avoid cheap blended teas if you can. These are often produced from older leaves which have concentrated levels of fluoride and pesticides.

And in other hot drink news…

Yet more revelations about coffee

Coffee’s often a controversial subject when I write about it in these newsletters.

For people with anxiety problems caffeine can worsen the condition, as well as causing palpitations, and it can be addictive, of course.

So whenever you read a positive health article about coffee, it’s important to think about your own mental and physical condition before you suddenly start downing cups of it every day.

However, with that in mind, there is a lot of evidence that moderate amounts of coffee can be good for you.

The latest research came out only a few weeks ago and was announced to the European Society of Cardiology Congress.

Dr Judit Simon and her team have found that people who drink up to three cups per day have a 21% lower chance of stroke and 17% lower risk of dying from heart disease.

MRI scans showed that coffee drinkers had healthier sized and better functioning hearts than non-coffee drinkers.

As ever, I don’t advise that you should drink it if you don’t like it, or you have issues that might be exacerbated by caffeine.

But otherwise, if you do enjoy one or two cups a day, you should continue to do so!

And if you dislike hot drinks in general – then there’s always water…

How water cuts risk of heart failure

I am not sure if it’s a special time of year for research papers on drinks and health, but there was another presentation to the European Society of Cardiology in August, but this time about water.

Researchers have shown that drinking enough of it every day can cut your heart failure risk.

The general guideline for “enough” water is around 6-8 glasses a day, but this includes the water you put in tea and coffee, as well as milk and any other sugar-free drinks.

Remember that you also get water from foods like cucumber, melon, apples and spinach.

So it’s not as if you need to knock back eight glasses of water on top of what you normally drink.

Anyway, it does mean that even if you don’t like coffee or tea, you can protect your heart simply by staying properly hydrated.

Goes to show that good nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated!

I hope you have a great weekend – I’ll write again soon!